The most funny and heartwarming animal stories of 2016

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Monday, December 26, 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, animal lovers should rejoice that the past year was full of incredibly heartwarming and hilarious stories about our furry friends and co-inhabitants of our planet. Take a look back at some of of the stories that made us laugh, cry and restored our faith in humanity.

Watch This Man Pal Around With A 1,400 Pound Kodiak Bear

Jan. 13, 2016

Jimbo first came to the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, New York as a cub 21 years ago. He had been born in captivity and did not have the skills to survive in the wild, according to the center's Facebook page. Jimbo is a Kodiak bear and stands almost 10-feet-tall.

Jim Kowalczik, the center's executive director, loves to play around with Jimbo and video of the two buddies hugging and playing has been viewed more than 16 million times since the center shared it to its Facebook page in January of this year.

When one person wondered about Kowalczik's safety around Jimbo, the center jokingly replied, "That's ok. We keep his insurance up to date."

Dog Accidentally Enters Half-Marathon, Finishes 7th

Jan. 25, 2016

On Jan 16, 2016, April Hamlin let her dog outside to go do "business" out in the yard, but she just kept running, according to Runner's World. Ludivine kept running until she ran into the The Elkmont Half-Marathon (Trackless Train Trek), and unknowingly joined in the race.

Ludivine ran the entire 13.1 mile course in 1:32:56. Out of 165 finishers, she placed seventh overall.

"She's laid back and friendly, so I can't believe she ran the whole half marathon because she's actually really lazy," Hamlin told Runner's World.

Dog Without Paws To Become Therapy Animal For Amputee Patients

March 18, 2016

"Don't ever question who can defy the odds." That's what animal rescue group ARME President and Founder Shannon Keith had to say about Chi Chi, a dog that has a new lease on life, and a new family, in the United States.

Chi Chi was found inside a trash bag near a black market meat trader in South Korea. According to rescuers, she was barely breathing and all four legs bound with wire. She was immediately rushed to the hospital where doctors declared that the only way to save Chi Chi's life would be to amputate all four of her paws.

Losing her paws has not diminished Chi Chi's energy or spirit. Just a day after her surgery, she was ready to be up and about, playing with her toys.

Chi Chi is now living with her new family in Arizona. Her new owners hope to certify Chi Chi as a therapy dog so she can visit amputee patients.

Six-Year-Old Girl Rescues Trapped Ducklings From Drain Pipe

April 12, 2016

A 6-year-old girl was able to save a group of ducklings after they fell down a drain pipe.

Mia's arms were just the right size to reach down and pull the ducklings to safety. The determined girl was able to save eight out of the nine ducklings that were trapped in the pipe. Unfortunately, the ninth duckling did not survive, Mia's mom said.

"I am incredibly proud of my daughter's actions to help the smallest beings," Mia's mom wrote on YouTube. "Additionally, I am grateful for the family that asked for our help, they tried their best to help the babies, but it required just the right arm size and right attitude to get it done."

Little Girl Born Without Feet Gets Puppy Born Without Paw

April 22, 2016

Sapphyre Johnson and Lt. Dan were destined to be friends. The 3-year-old girl born without feet now has new companion -- a 9-week-old white German shepherd puppy born without one paw.

Sapphyre's mom Ashley Johnson told ABC News it was love at first sight.

"Sapphyre immediately noticed that he was missing a paw," she said, recalling the first time her daughter saw a photo of the puppy. "She said, 'He has a foot like mine.'"

"It was awesome yesterday," Riddle said. "We said, 'Sapphyre show him your feet' and, oh boy, she threw off her prosthetics and her socks and said, 'Look!' Then Lt. Dan put his paw up at the exact same time."

Sapphyre is a healthy little girl, except for her missing feet and fingers. Her parents want her to know that being different is OK.

"People, even pets, no one is exactly the same," Johnson told ABC. "That would be boring. I think it's good for her to see that."

High School Students Give Teacher Kittens After Learning Her Cat Died

May 10, 2016

Texas high school teacher Tonya Andrews went from tears of grief one day during class to tears of joy the next. The day after telling her students that her beloved cat had passed away, they brought her two kittens.

The sweet story began a week prior, during Andrews' statistic class at Joshua High School. When Andrews began to cry in class, the students asked her what was wrong, and she replied that her 16-year-old cat, Blondie, had passed away.

"She kind of lost it and started bawling at that point," Rachel Hanhart, one of the students told ABC News.

So Hanhart got together with three other students and brainstormed ways to cheer her up. They decided on flowers, balloons, cupcakes ... and a couple of adorable little kittens. Hanhart said her mom helped the group research where to find kittens needing a home in the Fort Worth area.

Hanhart and another of the students, Ashlei Mahan, shared videos on social media of the heartwarming moment they delivered Andrews' new kittens.

Watch As Squirrel Steals Man's GoPro Camera

May 12, 2016

A squirrel in Montreal robbed a man's GoPro camera and brought it back to its nest. The squirrel discovered it wasn't able to eat the GoPro and lost interest just before the man retrieved his camera.

This Rescuer Saved a Raccoon In Heroic Fashion on Independence Day

July 6, 2016

A raccoon was pulled to safety on July 4 after a nearby boat spotted the animal frantically swimming in a creek.

The rescuer said he heard a "yelping sound" that at first sounded like birds overhead but after several hours he discovered the raccoon swimming for its life. A life preserver was attached to a rope and dropped down to the critter, which it immediately grabbed. It was then pulled to shore.

Sacramento Fire Crew Rescues 8 Kittens From Storm Drain

Aug. 8, 2016

The crew of Truck 7 of the Sacramento Fire Department reunited a family of cats by rescuing eight kittens from a storm drain on August 5.

In a video posted to Twitter, firefighters took the kittens out of the storm drain one by one. The mother cat watched on during the rescue and was reunited with her babies.

The department said on Twitter, "All are well."

Photographer Crawls Through Mud To Rescue Trapped Eagle

Aug. 10, 2016

With a rope attached to dry land, nature photographer Krzysztof Chomicz dragged himself through the mud to rescue a trapped white-tailed eagle near the Polish town of Swinoujscie on July 26. The distressed bird attacked Chomicz during the rescue but eventually he was able to bring it back to dry land.

The bird was then cleaned and cared for by wildlife conservation workers before being transferred to a refuge in Szczecin, Poland. The eagle, nicknamed Icarus by its caretakers, is believed to have been six months old and may have gotten stuck in the mud during its very first flight.

2016 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards Winners, Finalists

Nov. 25, 2016

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''Tough Day at the Office'' is the overall winner.
Angela Bohlke/

Wildlife photography often captures the majestic and awe-inspiring side of nature. But the Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards look to highlight the lighter side of animals.

"The essence of the competition is to raise awareness of the wildlife that we live with," said panel judge Tom Sullam in a press release. "Comedy is an essential part of our lives, and there are thousands of occasions when pets and wild animals alike behave in a funny manner."

The photographers captured the animals at opportune times to induce giggles, from a cheetah pondering a speed limit sign to a bear walking on its hind legs. The overall winner was "Tough Day at the Office" by Angela Bohlke.

Take a look at the 40 finalists for the 2016 Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards in the gallery above, and see the full list of winners on the contest's website.